Far too many times, I’ve heard laypeople defend the ‘safety’ living kidney donation by invoking the fact that some people are born with one kidney and ‘do just fine’. It’s annoying mostly because it’s a flawed argument. Folks born with one kidney wouldn’t know they only had one until/unless something went awry, or they were undergoing testing for some other sort of health-related issue.
So do we know the true number of folks born with one kidney? Not really.
And do we know those one-kidneyed folks function equally to those born with two? Not particularly. A person can function with one eye but we wouldn’t say it was equal in all ways to those with two.
Some Romanian authors help make my point for me:
The congenital SK [single kidney] possesses a higher number of nephrons (75%, as compared to 2 functional kidneys in a healthy person) than the surgically acquired SK – 50% nephrons.
This makes adaptive phenomena differ.
The researchers then list the reasons a person with a single kidney is of interest to nephrologists, including:
the causal relationship between the number of nephrons and the development of arterial hypertension (AH) is discussed in the literature, the SK kidney being a study model
Research has demonstrated an increase in blood pressure in living kidney donors, as well as a link between kidney disease and hypertension.
The consequences of the [single kidney] SK are well defined:
– proteinuria, observed in persons with both congenital and acquired SK
– AH, observed in persons with both congenital and acquired SK
– reduced glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
Watch that blood pressure, and see your doctor regularly…
GH. GLUHOVSCHI, FLORICA GADALEAN, CRISTINA GLUHOVSCHI,, & LIGIA PETRICA, SILVIA VELCIOV, A. GLUHOVSCHI, R. TIMAR 2,3 (2013). The solitary kidney – a nephrological perspective ROM. J. INTERN. MED, 51 (2), 80-88